Famous Vietnamese actors


In the previous century, hardly any millennials grew up without binging on 1980s dramas starring such as Ván Bài Lật Ngửa (Cards On The Table) or the famous 1957 film Người Đẹp Bình Dương (The Beauty Of Binh Duong) that has echoed through the ages. These classics couldn’t have been possible without the Vietnamese actors we remember and love.

If these blockbuster names struck a chord with you, then you are no stranger to these 20 Vietnamese actors who were movers and shakers of Vietnam’s film industry in the 20th century.


1. Thanh Nga – the queen of Vietnam’s modern folk opera


Thanh Nga
Image adapted from: Pinterest

Singing and dancing in films, TV dramas, and performances, there seemed to be nothing that Thanh Nga (1942-1978) couldn’t do on stage and screen.

Thanh Nga
Image adapted from: beautyosunset

Thanh Nga was brought up in a family of artists, where her mother was the producer of the most famous modern folk opera (Cải Lương) troupe in the 20th century and her siblings were also artists.

Thanh Nga
Image credit: Nhac Xua 

Naturally gifted with a bright and crisp voice coupled with professional training, Thanh Nga soon became a highly sought-after modern folk opera artist in her early 20s and her name often guaranteed arena sell-outs.

Throughout her career that was over a decade long, she had performed over a hundred opera plays, the most notable of which include Bên Cầu Dệt Lụa (Weaving Silk By The Bridge), a story about piety and Tiếng Trống Mê Linh (The Drum Sound Of Me Linh), which reenacted the Trưng sisters’ historical story and promoted patriotism. 

Aside from performing on the stage, she was also involved in film acting, which was a thriving form of art in then-South Vietnam in the 1960s. Her major film works include Loan Mắt Nhung (Loan The Velvet Eye) in 1970, which is about an innocent girl’s ill fate, and Lan và Điệp (1971), a Vietnamese version of Romeo & Juliet

Thanh Nga
Image credit: An Ninh Thu Do 

At the age of 36, Thanh Nga and her husband were killed at the front of their home in Saigon’s District 1 while trying to protect their son, who fortunately survived and is still alive today, from armed kidnappers. Many years have come and gone, but Thanh Nga’s beauty and talent have still echoed down the ages.

Her final resting place – together with that of many talented Vietnamese actors’ and artists’ – can be visited at The Artists’ Pagoda (Chùa Nghệ Sĩ) in Saigon today.


2. Thẩm Thúy Hằng – Vietnam’s “Grace Kelly”


tham thuy hang
Image credit: Pinterest 

One can’t list the most influential Vietnamese actors of all time without bringing up Thẩm Thúy Hằng (1940-).

tham thuy hang
Image adapted from: MrVietphim

After winning a Saigon-wide beauty pageant organized by Mỹ Vân Films, the Hải Phòng-born actress joined the film business and soon rose to prominence during Saigon’s golden years of cinema.

With her staggering beauty, bold sense of fashion, and charming acting style reminiscent of her actress counterpart Grace Kelly, she was the most influential Vietnamese actress in the late 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s besides Thanh Nga.

tham thuy hang
Image credit: Minh Tinh Màn Bạc – Thẩm Thúy Hằng 

Her face was all over local magazines and calendars, while the fashion items she wore in every movie were quickly snatched up by local fashion mavens in stores after movie screenings.

tham thuy hang
Image credit: Minh Tinh Màn Bạc – Thẩm Thúy Hằng 

While Thanh Nga portrayed a more traditional image by sticking with ao dai and country-style outfits, like many other Vietnamese actors did at the time, the fashion-forward Thẩm Thúy Hằng was not afraid to put on Western-style makeup as well as more revealing dresses that you only see in Hollywood movies. 

It’s hard to list her most successful works because all of the movies that featured her were the biggest box office hits in the 20th century. However, if you want to get to know more about this talented actress, check out Người Đẹp Bình Dương (The Beauty of Binh Duong), a 1958 movie about the eventful life of a beautiful girl from Bình Dương Province. 

This movie marked Thẩm Thúy Hằng’s debut in the film industry, and was such a hit that it propelled her name to fame, and “The Beauty of Binh Duong” soon became her nickname.


3. Nguyễn Chánh Tín – a household name in the 1980s


Chanh Tin
Image adapted from: Phim Hay Điện Ảnh

Starting out as a singer, Chánh Tín (1952-2020) became a nationwide phenomenon after appearing in Ván Bài Lật Ngửa (Cards On The Table), a black-and-white action drama series based on the real-life story of Agent Phạm Ngọc Thảo.

Chanh Tin
Nguyễn Chánh Tín playing Agent Robert Nguyễn Thành Luân in Ván Bài Lật Ngửa
Image credit: Cong Suong

Endowed with a handsome appearance, overwhelming on-screen charisma, and unrivalled acting skills, the Saigon-born actor has been remembered by Vietnamese audiences as Agent Robert Nguyễn Thành Luân, his iconic role in the movie.

Chanh Tin
Image credit: Nguoi Noi Tieng

During the period of 1982 to1987 when the series was filmed, Chánh Tín remained a household name and the most sought-after actor in the entire country.

Even until today, most audiences and many critics believe that Chánh Tín is one of the most charismatic Vietnamese actors to date and his performance in the series was so good that there should not be any remake.

Johnny Tri Nguyen and Chanh Tin
Image credit: Nguoi Noi Tieng

He happens to be the biological uncle of famous actor Johnny Trí Nguyễn and film director Charlie Nguyễn.


4. Kiều Chinh – Vietnam’s first actress to feature in a Hollywood movie


Kieu Chinh
Image credit: 24H

Born in Hanoi and brought up in Saigon, Kiều Chinh (1937-) began her acting career with a role in Hồi Chuông Thiên Mụ (The Bells of Thien Mu Temple) in 1957 and soon rose to fame with her unique beauty with her high cheekbones and defined nose.

Her well-delivered performance in Người Tình Không Chân Dung (A Shapeless Lover), a 1971 movie telling the story of a girl searching for her lover who was a soldier fighting on the battle front, won immense applause from local audiences and critics. 

Kieu Chinh
Image adapted from: MrVietphim

She was also Vietnam’s first actress to star in US-produced movies such as A Yank in Vietnam (1965) and Operation C.I.A (1965).

While filming in Singapore in April 1975, Kiều Chinh received news of the Fall of Saigon and immediately departed to seek political refuge in the US. After resettling in the US, she joined numerous North American movies and TV dramas such as Welcome Home (1989), The Joy Luck Club (1993), and City of Angels (1998).

Kieu Chinh
Image adapted from: Kieu Chinh Official Channel

Today, she is teaching at a talent network in New York and is one of the most prominent figures in the Vietnamese community in the US. 

Kieu Chinh
Kiều Chinh is still a picture of health at the age of 84
Image credit: Kiều Chinh


5. Kim Cương – Vietnam’s most prolific playwright


Ky nu Kim Cuong
Image credit: Pinterest 

While the acting skills and modern folk opera singing talent of Saigon-based Kim Cương (1937- ) are well-known among local audiences, it’s little known that she also has a talent for writing stage plays. 

Ky nu Kim Cuong
Kim Cương playing a nun in the TV series Hai Mùa Giáng Sinh, or Two Christmas Seasons
Image credit: Người Phụ Nữ Của Năm 

In fact, she was awarded the title of Vietnam’s Most Prolific Playwright, aside from numerous acting awards she has received over the years.

One of the most famous screenplays written by Kim Cương are Lá Sầu Riêng (The Durian Leaf), which was about the ill-fated love and Bông Hồng Cài Áo (The Rose Brooch), a touching story about the love of a mother. 

Ky nu Kim Cuong
Image adapted from: MrVietphim

A movie icon in the 1960s and 1970s, Kim Cương has also starred in about 30 movies which were all big hits in those days.

Some of her major works include Chiếc Bóng Bên Đường (The Roadside Shadow) in 1973, in which she played a countryside lover to a successful married man, 1962 thriller film Mưa Rừng (Rain In The Woods) about a family’s disturbing secrets and a sad love story taking place in a plantation, and 1973 comedy film Tứ Quái Sài Gòn (Saigon’s Fantastic Four), where she starred alongside Thẩm Thúy Hằng.

Ky nu Kim Cuong
Image credit: FC Kỳ Nữ Kim Cương 


6. Thành Được – a silver screen heartthrob in the 60s and 70s


thanh duoc
Image adapted from: Ban Sac Phuong Nam

Dubbed “The Throneless King” of the former South Vietnam’s performing arts industry in the 60s, Thành Được (1938- ) was one of the most acclaimed Vietnamese actors of his time until he emigrated to the US after the Vietnam War.

After finishing primary school, the Sóc Trăng-born actor followed his uncle, the producer of the Thanh Cần Modern Folk Opera troupe, to Saigon to learn about this form of arts. 

thanh duoc
Image adapted from: Thuy Nga

He made his stage debut at the age of 20 and soon soared to fame after his distinguished role in the opera play Khi hoa anh đào nở (When The Cherry Blossoms Bloom) or Tuyệt Tình Ca (The Song of Eternal Farewell). 

thanh duoc
Image adapted from: Nguoi Lao Dong

Endowed with a cinematic appearance and acting talents, Thành Được easily achieved tremendous success as he made a crossover from the modern folk opera stage to the silver screen.

The 1960s were the most flourishing period of both these art forms, and Thành Được reigned supreme in both arenas. 

Handsome, suave, and charismatic, he made many Saigon girls those days fall head over heels with his onscreen appearance.

thanh duoc
Image adapted from: beautyosunset

If you have never seen Thành Được clad in a soldier’s uniform in his striking performance in Chiếc Bóng Bên Đường (The Roadside Shadow) alongside actresses lauded for their beauty such as Kiều Chinh and Kim Cương, please do.

thanh duoc
Thành Được (left) and Thanh Nga (right) in a play
Image credit: VnExpress

Rumor has it that he was deeply in love with Thanh Nga back in the day, but his love was not reciprocated.


7. Lê Công Tuấn Anh – a key figure in the post-war romance films


Le Cong Tuan Anh
Image credit: Nguoi Noi Tieng

During the 1990s, Lê Công Tuấn Anh (1967-1996) was an exponentially popular heartthrob and the pioneer of Vietnam’s modern film era long after the end of the Vietnam War in 1975.

Le Cong Tuan Anh
Image adapted from: Phim Hay Điện Ảnh

Throughout his brief but illustrious career, Lê Công Tuấn Anh played a variety of parts but was best known for his romance film roles.

Some include the character Quang Đông Ki Sốt in the famous 1990 blockbuster Vị Đắng Tình Yêu (The Bitterness Of Love), a romantic movie about the love between a poor medical student and his rich girlfriend which gained overwhelming praise from nationwide audiences.

Le Cong Tuan Anh
Image credit: Nguoi Noi Tieng

Unquestionably handsome, with a tinge of sadness in his eyes, Lê Công Tuấn Anh was once the legend of Vietnamese post-war cinema. During his golden days, he won numerous accolades for his achievements in the film business, such as the Golden Lotus Award Best Movie (1993) and the Golden Apricot Award For The Most Favorite Actor in 1994, 1995, and 1996.

Unfortunately, while at the peak of his career, Lê Công Tuấn Anh passed away at the age of 29 by his own hand. 


8. Việt Trinh – the beauty icon of the 1990s


Viet Trinh
Image credit: Bao Phap Luat

There was hardly any teenage boy growing up in the 1990s who didn’t have a calendar or poster with the face of the stunning Việt Trinh (1972- ) on it.

Viet Trinh
Image adapted from: HPLUS Films

Aside from her soulful eyes, pointed nose, and delicate bow-shaped lips that made her a beauty icon of her time, Việt Trinh seemed to have a knack for films that were destined to be great hits. 

Viet Trinh
Image credit: VTC

Việt Trinh started her career at the age of 16 as a calendar model while she was still a student at the Saigon Film Academy. Through her doe-eyed, alluring looks, she captivated millions in those days with her spectacular role in Người Đẹp Tây Đô (The Beauty of Tay Đo), a movie about a beautiful and patriotic woman from Tây Đô, also known as Cần Thơ City. 

Viet Trinh
Image credit: Bao Phap Luat

This movie achieved resounding success in those days and became Việt Trinh’s nickname ever since. 

Today, Việt Trinh is leading a low-key lifestyle in her verdant villa in Bình Dương Province and spends most of her time gardening and travelling with her son. 


9. Lý Hùng – the owner of the most leading roles in Vietnam


Ly Hung
Image adapted from: Nguoi Noi Tieng

Starring in over 50 movies, Lý Hùng (1969-) has earned the status of being the Vietnamese actor who’s played the most leading roles.

The biological son of Lý Huỳnh (1943-2020), one of the former South Vietnam’s most famous kung fu masters during the Indochinese era who’s known for having challenged Bruce Lee himself to a fight, Lý Hùng learned shaolin kungfu and Tây Sơn – Bình Định martial arts at a young age and also became a martial artist himself.

Some of Lý Hùng’s most famous works include Phạm Công – Cúc Hoa (1989), a fictional film about the love story between Phạm Công (played by Lý Hùng) and his wife Cúc Hoa, and Bên Dòng Sông Trẹm (Along The Trem River), a painful and intense love story of a countryside couple.

Ly Hung
Image adapted from: Cải Lương Việt Nam

Aside from his heroic roles in bloodshed genre movies and TV dramas, he was also known for his captivating on-screen romances with actresses such as Y Phụng and Diễm Hương.

Ly Hung
Image credit: Nguoi Noi Tieng

In fact, he and Y Phụng looked so in love on the set and in sync off the screen that they were rumored to be lovers in real life until Y Phụng emigrated to the US.


10. Y Phụng – the bombshell of the 1990s


Y Phung
Image credit: VietnamNet

Daughter of Saigon’s “King of Folk Opera” Minh Phụng, Y Phụng (1979- ) joined the show business at the young age of 6 as a supporting performer at her parents’ folk opera shows.

Y Phung
Y Phụng and her father
Image credit: Bao Dan Sinh

Possessing a fiery beauty and bold sense of fashion, Y Phụng gained success as a singer and actress in the 1980s.

Not someone who shied away from showing skin, Y Phụng usually wore cleavage-exposing clothes on the stage. While she received a lot of flak for her daring choice of on-stage clothes, her unique appearance earned her a nationwide reputation as the bombshell of Saigon and every movie she featured in became a big hit. 

Y Phung
Supermodel Kate Moss posing in front of a poster featuring Y Phụng (with earrings, on the left) during her visit to Saigon in 1996
Image credit: VnExpress

Some of Y Phụng’s major works include Hải Đường Trắng, or White Camellia (1994), in which she played the lover of robber Bạch Hải Đường, who was a real-life figure in the 1970s.

Y Phụng emigrated to the US in 2005 and became a regular performer for Asia Entertainment, specializing in the bolero music genre. With a velvety voice and gorgeous face, Y Phụng soon amassed a huge following among overseas Vietnamese communities. 

Y Phung
Image adapted from: Asia Entertainment Official

Her performance of Viết Từ KBC, a song about a girl receiving a letter from her lover who was a soldier, gained overwhelming ovations from the audience and Youtube viewers.


11. Quyền Linh – one of Vietnam’s most charitable actors


Quyen Linh
Image credit: Nguoi Noi Tieng

It was a poor and rough life that Quyền Linh (1969-) had endured through his teenage years until becoming a success on screen made him one of Vietnam’s most generous and approachable actors.

Having appeared in over 20 TV series, 10 films, and numerous plays, the Saigon-based actor is one of the most prolific and respected Vietnamese actors who debuted in the 1990s. 

Quyen Linh
Image adapted from: HPLUS Films

Đồng Tiền Xương Máu (The Blood Money), a 1999 TV series about how money could alter people’s characters and Người Hà Nội (The Hanoians), a 1995 TV series about a group of Hanoi residents struggling to adapt to Vietnam’s new days of open doors after the Vietnam War, are some of Quyền Linh’s most iconic works.

Quyen Linh
Image credit: The Gioi Dien Anh

In the past decade, he has gradually retired from acting and become a show host for numerous TV shows such as HTV7 show Vượt Lên Chính Mình (Rising Above Yourself) and VTV3 show Vì Bạn Xứng Đáng (You Deserve It).

Quyen Linh
Image credit: Dia Diem An Uong

Hardworking and humble, Quyền Linh is currently among the highest-earning Vietnamese actors and celebrities and also among the most charitable ones. Fans have spotted him driving to the more remote parts of Vietnam or hospitals around the country to donate his own money to poor families.

Rumor has it that he usually tells the people he donates money to that the donations come from an anonymous donor in Saigon, which is usually himself. He also raises funds every once in a while for greater charitable causes such as the Central Vietnam flooding relief efforts. 


12. Chi Bảo – captivating presence coupled with real talent


Chi Bao
Image credit: Nguoi Lao Dong

Endowed with facial expressions imbued with cinematic melancholy and a stylish hairdo that resembles Hong Kong’s movie icon Andy Lau, Chi Bảo (1973-) made many swoon in his prime days.

Chi Bao
Image adapted from: HPLUS Films

In addition to his good looks and charisma, the Saigon-based actor also gained recognition from critics for his ability to embrace complex movie characters with depth and magnetism. 

Having appeared in over 30 films, Chi Bảo and his influence swept the nation in the late 1990s and early 2000s in Những đứa con thành phố (The Sons Of The City), a drama about a patriotic movement during the Indochinese era.

Chi Bao
Image credit: Chi Bảo

He also delivered an unforgettable performance in the classic 1999 TV drama series Đồng Tiền Xương Máu (The Blood Money), about Saigon residents’ struggle to adapt to Vietnam’s early days of nationwide market reform. 

Chi Bao
Chi Bảo at the age of 47
Image credit: Chi Bảo


13. Văn Hiệp – a witty actor remembered by Northern Vietnamese audiences


Van Hiep
Image credit: 24h

Establishing himself as an film and play actor from the 1960s till the early 2000s, Văn Hiệp (1942-2013) soon became a well-loved icon on Hanoi’s theatrical stages and films.

While Văn Hiệp had never landed any leading roles in his larger-than-life career, compared to the other Vietnamese actors on this list, he was a recognizable face among Northern Vietnamese households through the countless TV dramas he featured in. 

Van Hiep
Image credit: Dan Tri

Possessing a cheerful face and great sense of humor, Văn Hiệp dominated the on-screen comedy genre with memorable roles in the Gặp Nhau Cuối Tuần (Weekly Gatherings) TV series featuring him as the witty Trưởng Thôn Văn Hiệp (Village Head Văn Hiệp).

Van Hiep
Image adapted from: Comedy Everywhere

While he’s long gone, Văn Hiệp is still remembered by many audiences as a dedicated and humble actor who always brought joy and laughter to their households.

Van Hiep
Image credit: Dan Tri


14. Lê Khanh – the gold standard for Hanoian classic beauty 


Le Khanh
Image credit: kimapache

Endowed with delicate facial features, a gentle voice, and effortless sophistication fitting of a true blue Hanoian woman, Lê Khanh (1963-) embodies the finest qualities of a capital city dweller.

Le Khanh
Image credit: VnExpress

This is also one of the reasons why she was entrusted with the leading role of Thảo, a beautiful woman with a sad love life in the famous 1995 TV drama series Người Hà Nội (The Hanoians), which shed a light on the struggling lives of a group of Hanoi residents after the Vietnam War.  

She’s also known to international movie fans through her role as Khanh, a sophisticated and charming housewife in Mùa Hè Chiều Thẳng Đứng (The Vertical Ray of the Sun), a 2000 feature film about 3 sisters living in Hanoi’s Old Quarter and their complicated relationships with their husbands and lovers, with a focus on the traditional ways of life of Hanoians. 

Le Khanh
Image credit: Nguoi Noi Tieng

The movie was directed by acclaimed Vietnamese-French director Trần Anh Hùng whose films have attained international fame. They include The Scent of Green Papaya which won 2 prizes at the Cannes Film Festival, and Cyclo (1995), which featured movie star Tony Leung Chiu Wai and won the Golden Lion prize at the Venice International Film Festival.

Throughout her career that spans over 40 years, Lê Khanh has starred alongside many fellow Vietnamese actors in over 20 movies and TV drama series, as well as numerous plays. 


15. Mạnh Cường – the gentleman from Hanoi


Manh Cuong
Image adapted from: kimapache

From starring in romances to psychological thrillers, Mạnh Cường has an ample record of playing “lady-killer” characters in which he is loved by all types of women.

Always portrayed as a rich and cultured Hanoi man in his films, Mạnh Cường has been fondly dubbed “the gentleman” during his remarkable career that has expanded over 2 decades.

Manh Cuong
Image adapted from: Tesla Gifts

Mạnh Cường has long been one of Hanoi’s most applauded TV actors, especially since he delivered a spectacular performance in the iconic series Người Hà Nội (The Hanoians), in which he played a rich man in love with a married woman. 

Manh Cuong
Image credit: Tien Phong

He also starred alongside Lê Khanh in Mùa Hè Chiều Thẳng Đứng (The Vertical Ray of the Sun), an acclaimed feature film directed by Trần Anh Hùng.


16. Trung Hiếu – an enduring iconic figure in TV dramas


Trung Hieu
Image credit: Kich Ha Noi

When it comes to Trung Hiếu (1973-), his handsome appearance and superb martial arts skills are not what viewers know of him – his acting skills are the most memorable of all.

Trung Hieu
Image adapted from: Thanh Ba Vlog

Since beginning his acting career in 1996, Trung Hiếu has unfailingly demonstrated his acting talents and knocked down stereotypes about who gets to be on the silver screen.

Trung Hieu
Image credit: Kich Ha Noi

Possessing dynamic, unfailingly on-point expressions in both comedy films and melodramas, Trung Hiếu can get so soaked in his roles that viewers can hardly differentiate between his real self and the characters he’s playing. 

Trung Hieu
Image credit: Kich Ha Noi

In Đồng Quê Xào Xạc (The Rustling Countryside), one of Trung Hiếu ’s most famous works, he was so successful in portraying a self-absorbed and possessive soldier that many viewers openly expressed their hatred for him when seeing him on the streets.

Throughout his impressive career that has spanned over 20 years, Trung Hiếu has won numerous awards such as the Best Leading Actor In TV Dramas award in the 2009 Vietnam Film Festival and the Best Leading Play Actor award for the play Tình Sử Ngàn Năm (A Thousand Years Of Love) in 2010.


17. Xuân Bắc – the most celebrated comedy star in the North


Xuan Bac
Image adapted from: Nguyễn Xuân Bắc 

It’s impossible to say whether Xuân Bắc (1976-) is better as a comedian or actor, because he has achieved resounding success on both comedy stages and in TV drama series.

Xuan Bac
Image adapted from: Phim Hay Việt Nam

Over the span of his 20-year career, Xuân Bắc has starred in over 20 TV dramas and countless TV shows.

After graduating from Hanoi Academy of Theatre and Cinema in 1998, Xuân Bắc joined Hanoi Theatre and starred in numerous plays. He also started his career in acting through supporting roles in some iconic Hanoi-produced films such as 12A và 4H, a 1995 TV series about Hanoi high school students and Chuyện Nhà Mộc, a 1998 movie about a farmer’s journey to help his daughter get into college.

Xuan Bac
Image adapted from: Phim Hay Điện Ảnh

However, Xuân Bắc only started to soar to fame after landing a starring role in the famous 2000 TV drama Sóng Ở Đáy Sông (Waves At The Bottom Of A River), which tells the eventful life story of a son born out of wedlock who was mistreated by his rich father.

This TV drama was extremely famous in the Northern parts of Vietnam at the time of airing, and became a stepping stone for Xuân Bắc to become one of the most acclaimed actors in Vietnam at the turn of the 21st century. 

Xuan Bac
(From left to right) Công Lý, Quốc Khánh, and Xuân Bắc
Image credit: Nguoi Lao Dong

Endowed with a great sense of humor and outstanding acting skills, Xuân Bắc is also an illustrious comedian. He’s a fixture of the Gặp Nhau Cuối Năm (Year-End Gathering Show), an annual Vietnamese comedy show starring many Vietnamese actors and aired on all VTV channels on New Year’s Eve, in which he is known as Nam Tào, a counselor to the Heavenly King.

The show was aired from 2003 to 2009, enjoying tremendous popularity in Vietnam and long considered the must-watch TV show in every household on that day. 


18. Hồng Ánh – talented actress and movie director


Hong Anh
Image credit: Nguoi Noi Tieng

Born in 1977 in Trà Vinh, Hồng Ánh (1977-) has attained a reputation for her professionalism and versatility in her acting roles. 

Hong Anh
Image adapted from: HPLUS Films

Hồng Ánh ’s ability to transform into any character she plays is remarkable, and shown in TV drama Tóc Ngắn (Short Hair), a 1999 TV series about friendship among a group of Saigon students in which she played the role of a stubborn city girl.

Her 2007 movie Trăng Nơi Đáy Giếng (The Moon in The Well), in which she played a submissive wife willing to sacrifice her happiness for her selfish husband, earned her the title of Best Leading Actress in the 2008 Dubai Film Festival.

Johnny Tri Nguyen
Image credit: Nguoi Noi Tieng

Throughout her remarkable career, Hồng Ánh has also won numerous awards at Cánh Diều Vàng, Vietnam’s Golden Kite Film Festival.

Resilient and ambitious, Hồng Ánh also has a successful crossover to the directing field. The Way Station (2017), her first directorial debut, won numerous international awards such as the Best Film award at the 2017 ASEAN Film Festival.


19. Ngô Thanh Vân – Vietnam’s top female action star


Ngo Thanh Van - Veronica Ngo
Image credit: Nguoi Noi Tieng

Among singing, modeling, dancing, and film production, there’s hardly any area in show business where Ngô Thanh Vân (1979- ), also known as Veronica Ngo, is not involved in.

Ngo Thanh Van-The Rebel
Image adapted from: MovieZ Ultra

Ngô Thanh Vân began her singing career in 2002 and made public appearances in numerous TV shows and music videos but not didn’t achieve as much success. Only when she landed a leading role in Dòng Máu Anh Hùng (The Rebel) in 2007 did she achieve nationwide fame as a promising female action star.

Ngo Thanh Van-The Rebel
Image credit: Halids

Directed by Charlie Nguyễn, The Rebel is a Vietnamese period film set in colonial French Indochina time in 1922. It tells the story of Võ Thanh Thúy, a revolutionist who falls in love with a high-ranking official (played by Johnny Trí Nguyễn) who works for the French administration and persuades him to join her father’s nationalist movement for freedom.

After The Rebel, Ngô Thanh Vân continued her enchanting silver screen romance with Johnny Trí Nguyễn in other action movies such as Bẫy Rồng (Clash) in 2009, in which she played an ass-kicking hitwoman. 

Ngo Thanh Van - Veronica Ngo
Image credit: VG Entertainment

In 2017, Ngô Thanh Vân tried her hand as the chief producer of Cô Ba Sài Gòn (Miss Ba Saigon), a movie about Vietnamese ao dai which later became the biggest hit of the year, fueling a traditional ao dai movement across the country.

Ngo Thanh Van - Co Ba Saigon
Image adapted from: Veronica Ngo

She’s also one of the few Vietnamese actors contributing to promote Asian representation in Hollywood through her role as pilot Paige in the 2017 epic space film Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi.

Ngo Thanh Van Furie
Image credit: The Thao Van Hoa

In 2019, Ngô Thanh Vân produced and also starred in Hai Phượng (Furie), which tells the story of a former gangster’s journey to rescue her daughter from her enemies. After only 2 weeks of release, Hai Phượng grossed USD5.8 million and became the highest-grossing blockbuster the country has ever seen.

While Ngô Thanh Vân’s acting skills have not earned much praise from local viewers and critics, her dedication and determination in learning martial arts for on-screen hand-to-hand combat makes her a highly respected actress in Vietnam. 


20. Johnny Trí Nguyễn – the most acclaimed action star among Vietnamese actors


Johnny Tri Nguyen
Image adapted from: MovieZ Ultra

Emigrating to the US at the age of 9, Johnny Trí Nguyễn (1974-) began his acting career as a stuntman in multiple Hollywood movies such as Spider 2 and Jarhead.

However, the talented actor only started rising to prominence after returning to Vietnam and starring in Dòng Máu Anh Hùng (The Rebel), Vietnam’s greatest blockbuster in 2007.

Johnny Tri Nguyen
Image adapted from: Johnny Trí Nguyễn

In the movie, directed by Johnny Trí Nguyễn played the role of Lê Văn Cường, a high-ranking official assigned with the task of hunting down Vietnamese nationalists who were planning coup attempts against the French administration.

After witnessing his fellow Vietnamese people being slaughtered by French colonists, he turned around and started a rebellion with his lover, a revolutionist, to fight for his people’s freedom. 

Johnny Tri Nguyen
Image adapted from: MovieZ Ultra

Filled with mind-blowing stunts, an overwhelming feast of combat featuring Vietnamese traditional martial art (Vovinam), epic music scores, and state-of-the-art sets and technology for the time, The Rebel won tremendous praise from local and international audiences.

Johnny Tri Nguyen
Johnny Trí Nguyễn in Bụi Đời Chợ Lớn
Image adapted from: Johnny Trí Nguyễn

After the success of The Rebel, Johnny Trí Nguyễn starred in a few other action movies which all turned out to be huge blockbuster hits such as
Bẫy Rồng (Clash), a 2009 movie about the tenacity of Saigon’s underworld and Bụi Đời Chợ Lớn (Cho Lon Gangs), a 2013 movie about the seedy underbelly of Chợ Lớn, Saigon’s Chinatown.

Johnny Trí Nguyễn happens to be the nephew of Nguyễn Chánh Tín, who also starred in The Rebel as Johnny’s father. 

Johnny Tri Nguyen
Image credit: Johnny Trí Nguyễn

After filming Bụi Đời Chợ Lớn, Johnny took a step back from acting to focus on operating his dojo, only making appearances in his Youtube videos where he shares his thoughts about martial arts, meditation, and motor skills.

Ruggedly handsome and undeniably talented, the well-respected actor is arguably the most influential action movie star in Vietnam since the turn of the century. 


The most famous Vietnamese actors


Dating back to the beginning of the cinema business in the 1950s, famous Vietnamese actors such as Thẩm Thúy Hằng, Thành Được, and Nguyễn Chánh Tín were the driving force behind local residents flooding theaters over the weekends and buying stylish clothes worn by these celebrities. 

From romance movies imbued with the influence of the ongoing Vietnam War to family dramas telling the stories of Vietnamese families coping with life challenges, we can follow the movies of these Vietnamese actors to trace our country’s flourishing cinematic culture amid the challenging war and post-war times

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Cover image adapted from: Nguoi Noi Tieng, Nhac Xua, and 24h
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